Tour of Britain race director Mick Bennett hopes that the challenging 2015 parcours will attract the biggest names in cycling, as they build up to the World Championships in Richmond. On Tuesday, Bennett announced what is probably the toughest route, and is definitely the longest, in the race’s history, with the Hartside Fell in the Pennines set to test the riders on stage five.
“There are some really brutal days out there and deliberately so,” Bennett told the race’s website, tourofbritain.co.uk. “Firstly we want our national British tour to reflect the tough terrain which is part and parcel of our cycling scene and secondly we have talked informally with the teams in recent years – and increasingly with the big World Tour teams – and they are adamant that they would welcome a couple of really testing long days ahead of the Worlds.
“We are very happy to oblige and it fits in perfectly with our remit of expanding the race.”
Competing with the Vuelta a España and the Canadian WorldTour races of Montreal and Quebec, the race is fighting to make itself an ideal proving ground for World Championship hopefuls. Michal Kwiatkowski (Etixx-QuickStep) and Bradley Wiggins (Team Sky) used it to perfection last year, while Mark Cavendish (Etixx-QuickStep) also rode the race on the way to his world title in 2011.
Anyone hoping for longer and more challenging terrain will be delighted, with three stages of the eight-day race breaching the 200-kilometre mark and the overall route totalling 1,471 – almost 100 kilometres longer than last year’s race. The 2015 course breaks another record for the race with the riders taking on the Hartside Fell, which at 1,904 feet is the highest point the race has ever passed.
Hartside will be the show-piece finish to stage five and Bennett expects a big battle. “You would fancy the peloton to arrive at the foot of the climb pretty much intact unless the wind blows en-route, in which case it could be split asunder by the time the main challenge presents itself. And wind is not unknown in those parts,” he explained.
"It's (Hartside) a proper 8km climb and although the average gradient is a comparatively modest 5% up at the top there are some nasty 10% sections and a hairpin that could reward the more aggressive riders. This stage has a real sting in the tail.”
There will be no time trialling at this year’s race, with construction work preventing the organisers from using the traditional London route on the final day. It has been replaced by a corner-packed criterium through the heart of London, which Bennett says will be no easy ride.
"Spectator wise this is going to be a treat with the ability for the crowd to get really involved with the entire race developing right there is front of them. It’s a very fast course but quite tough as well. I can assure there is a definite drag up Lower Regent Street to the finish and the riders have got to ride that 15 times."
The 2015 Tour of Britain will take place from September 6-13.